Scalia on the Legality of Secession

A few years ago a screenwriter, Dan Turkewitz, solicited the opinions of all nine Supreme Court justices on their views of the legality of secession.  Apparently, Turkewitz was working on a screenplay in which the state of Maine attempts to secede from the United States to join Canada.  Only one justice responded and it turned out to be, arguably, the court’s most conservative member.

And there you have it.  What value you place in Scalia’s response is entirely up to you.  Like I’ve said before, I have very little interest in the question of whether a state has the right to secede from the union.  I do find it interesting, however, that the most conservative member of the court can find nothing in the Constitution that would render it legal.

Hey, there is always revolution.  [Hat-tip to Andy Hall]

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Contemplating a Different Trail

I moved to Boston in July 2011 and I’ve loved every minute of it.  It’s a beautiful city and for a history buff it really does feel like I am a kid in a candy store.  That said, I’ve lived two lives since arriving here and I am now wondering if it is time to give in and embrace this thing called the American Revolution.  Over the past year I’ve halfheartedly explored a few potential Civil War research projects that are centered here in Boston.  They include a regimental history of the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and a Civil War biography of Governor John Andrew.  Both are projects that would, no doubt, be interesting to explore and I have no doubt they would be embraced by both scholarly and popular audiences.

The problem is that beyond a few trips to the archives I can’t seem to maintain my excitement level.  I walk to the archives or wander through the city and I am distracted by a very different history.  Downtown Boston is defined by the sights/sites and sounds of the American Revolution.  There is no escaping this and since I have always viewed history as a way to connect to my surroundings I want to know more.  This includes not only the physical landscape, but the community of people who are involved in its interpretation and maintenance.  [click to continue…]

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Prayers For the Descendants of Invaders

Update: Once again, the post was removed.

I can only imagine the personal courage behind these sincere words of concern from the SHPG for those Northerners in the path of hurricane Sandy.  As the descendant of people who would not arrive in this country until the early twentieth century, I truly appreciate Carl’s willingness to look beyond our complicity in the unconstitutional invasion of the South.  In all seriousness, things are fine up here in Boston.  We had a few hours of high winds, but through it all we never lost power.  The same can’t be said for my hometown of Atlantic City, New Jersey.  My thoughts are with my good friends still living in the area.  Hope all of you are safe.

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Will the Confederacy Decide the 2012 Election?

Update: Andrew Sullivan attempts to explain his statement, but only manages to dig a deeper hole for himself.

According to Andrew Sullivan, the Confederacy lives or at least the racism that pervaded those specific states during the Civil War era and it may decide the 2012 election.  More specifically Sullivan argued this morning on ABC’s This Week, “If Virginia and Florida go back to the Republicans, it’s the Confederacy entirely.  You put the map of the Civil War over this electoral map, you’ve got the Civil War.”  Whether George Will is correct in the details, he at least provides a reasonable counter-explanation re: a possible shift from blue to red state for Virginia and Florida.  More to the point, it reveals Sullivan’s stupidity.  I certainly believe that race is a factor in this election, but by linking the modern South with the Confederacy he perpetuates the myth that racism is somehow concentrated in that region alone.

There is absolutely no reason, apart from trying to introduce a seductive soundbite, to mention the Confederacy or the Civil War. It feeds what I call the “Continued War” narrative that is so popular with the mainstream media.  It’s a reductionist explanation that pits Northerners vs. Southerners and blacks vs. whites.  One can only imagine what Sullivan will say if Ohio goes for Romney.

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Should We Still Associate Racism With Confederate Heritage?

The following clip was pulled from a recent NEH panel on the legacy of emancipation.  It included Ed Ayers, Gary Gallagher, Christy Coleman, Eric Foner, and Thavolia Glymph.  I highly recommend viewing the entire session if you have the time, but for now check out this short clip from the Q&A.  In it an African-American student asks if we should still associate racism with Confederate heritage.  I am not surprised that Christy Coleman, president of the American Civil War Center, decided to respond and she does so in a very fair and balanced manner.  Coleman’s response reflects both the difficulties of her position as a black woman running a Civil War museum in the former capital of the Confederacy and someone who has listened closely to visitors hailing from very different backgrounds.  Yeah, count me as a fan of Christy Coleman.

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